Sunday, July 18, 2010


I started radiation last week, but not without some very interesting points of preparation, for instance, I was given an initial CT scan to map the area that would be radiated, a mold was made of my head turned to the left (keeping my jaw bone out of the radiation beam) and my arms raised above my head, clasped on posts near the crown of my head. When both of these steps were completed, the three lasers were lined up and I received three tattoos. OK, it really was just three small dots of ink, which will be a permanent gift of this process, but I call them tattoos to validate the pain that was motivated by the small pricks (just a side note—I have a whole new appreciation for people who have tattoos---OUCH)!

Once the CT scan, mold, and tattoos (who would have ever thought I would have a tattoo!) were in place I waited for about a week and a half for my radiation treatment plan to be generated by Dr. Harris and his staff and treatment to begin.

As has been the case on this entire journey, we feel so blessed with the caring staff of Gamma West. Dr. Harris, Kari (my sister-in-law’s best friend!), Robin, Andy, Justin, and Jessica make me feel almost lucky for the opportunity (ALMOST:)!). This particular “opportunity” will be 5 days a week for the next 6 weeks, but only entails a small percentage of my day.

Each day I drop Eli and Isaac off with a hug and kiss, trying to answer the questions about why I am going to the doctor again when I was just there yesterday and why do I have to go to the doctor when the bad cells are already gone? The questions continue until they see the sweet face and warm arms of one of the many caring women in the neighborhood, for which I entrust my most valuable parcels. Those same parcels have been loved and fattened up a little by the baking of cookies, cupcakes, and any number of other things that their old mom limits. In other words, this will be a great 6 weeks for the boys and I am so grateful for the kind and selfless acts of service from my friends!

I then make the short drive to Cancer Treatment at Davis Hospital in the Robert F. Bitner Medical Building, say “hi” and smile at Kari and Robin, change my clothes and get into what is called a “CAPE” (which made me giggle initially as I imagined myself as a super hero! The first day I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized…I was unquestionably not a super hero!).

The image in the mirror caused me to pause and the smile quickly faded from my face. Familiar tears filled my eyes as I stroked my head, and I took a deep breath in as a quick realization of the toll the last few months has taken on me physically, emotionally, and spiritually swept across my mind. The cape gaped open to reveal many of the scars of the journey on my body and the tears that rolled down my cheeks exposed my emotional and spiritual landscape that has been forever changed.

I gathered my emotions and the cape around me (as best I could!), and found a place in the waiting room. Andy soon appeared and we walked down the hall to the TomoTherapy room. I climbed onto the Tomo bed and Andy and Justin gave me the instructions that I would be asked to follow for the next 6 weeks. A tear escaped my eye as I was all alone and moved into the unfamiliar tunnel of radiation. I tried to find a place to orient myself and quickly realized everything looked the same, so I closed my eyes and my mind rested on the experience with the mirror from the dressing room and not just that mirror, but the crashing down of my favorite mirror at home.

Earlier in the week, the boys and I had been out running some errands and I came home to find the mirror in Justin and my bedroom crashed to the floor, its frame broken in several places. I sat on my bed and just stared at the mirror, with its broken corners and displaced iron works, as it rested on the floor. I felt sad!

In the tube, I couldn’t help but think of myself as that mirror, at one time, like the mirror, I was firmly positioned in my place…matching with all the surrounding “furniture” if you will! Then, with a single phone call, my world came crashing down and my previously well defined corners and ornamentation had been broken away. Despite the broken parts of the frame, the mirror was still intact and still served its purpose of reflecting an image back; that aspect of its nature had not been broken in the fall, just like my core nature had not been broken with the cancer call.

My mind immediately raced to fix-it mode and just like past experience, when I needed something fixed I always thought about my dad, who can fix anything! Imagine how blessed I have been to have this sweet, jack-of-all trades in my life. But, as fate would have it, my dad was out of town. There was no fixing of that mirror that day, but I was able to sit in front of the mirror and just think.

What did the image in that mirror really reveal? Do we take enough time in our life to really evaluate the image that stares back at us in the mirror? Or, do we check our hair, teeth, and make-up and never really take the time to really see our core nature?

I am grateful for the journey of this cancer treatment because it has given me that time! There is true power in really evaluating where we stand and what is reflected in our eyes (Matt 6:22-24). As I take the time and really see, I know there are things that I really like about what is reflected and there are undeniably things that need to change! I am grateful for the power of the atonement, that unbelievable sacrifice of our older brother, which truly covers that which has happened to us physically, emotionally, and spiritually (Alma 7:11-12). I am grateful for an earthly father who so closely emulates my Heavenly Father. In this, I am blessed.

I hope we can all take a little time in front of the mirror. Not to adjust our hair (for those that have it!) or grumble about some bulge here or wrinkle there, but to really look into our own eyes and evaluate our current station, that we may actively take part in the atonement of Jesus Christ and bring ourselves back into alignment with God’s will.

Love to you,


Mom’s Heart Moment:

I was out of town on a Sunday morning and the boys, Justin included, were fending for themselves. Eli was asked to get his church shoes, and he grabbed the shoes without shoe laces. Without warning, he marched himself down to my mom and dad’s house (2 doors down) plainly knowing that my dad could “fix him up”. He was truly surprised when my dad did not have spare shoe laces on Sunday morning, he reflected, “Papa can fix anything!” (an obvious strong mom influence).

As I stated earlier, I am grateful for my dad and I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that truly can “fix anything”. He desires for us to be happy and happiness comes when we align our will with His.

I will leave you with this thought from the Youth Spectacular at Weber State:

“When you look in the mirror do you see who He sees?”


  1. I love seeing you and sharing random stories with you.. I am sad to see you go through all of this but am so inspired by you and your outlook on life.. your amazing! Sorry we talk to you so long after each treatment.. we just LOVE ya!

  2. Keep hanging in there. Wear those tattoos with pride. Mine remind me each day of all of the wonderful blessings received from this experience we call cancer.

  3. Wow what an awesome insight! I love that! It reminds me of when you told me to just stare at myself in the mirror everyday and tell myself "I live and love in this beautiful temple." You said that through our eyes we really see into our souls! It helps me so much to see inner beauty and that it isn't all about outer beauty and what we look like. Beck you are beautiful inside and out! I love you!

    Love always